Revisiting JVP’s 20th Amendment
Posted on September 8th, 2018

By UDAYA P GAMMANPILA Courtesy Ceylon Today

MP Vijitha Herath of the JVP presented the Bill, titled ‘20th Amendment to the Constitution (20A) in Parliament on 5 September. I filed a petition in the Supreme Court, seeking a determination that the Bill requires the approval of the people at a referendum, since it violates entrenched Articles 3, 4 and 30(2) of the Constitution. This is the ideal time to revisit the 20A to justify our vehement protest against it. We oppose the 20A for three reasons.

Firstly, it opens a window for the disastrous federal constitution. The Government is fully aware of the fact that if the federal constitution is placed before the people at a referendum, it will face a humiliating defeat. Hence, they have found a new strategy to avoid the referendum. It was tested at the committee stage of the Provincial Council Election Amendment Act No 17 of 2017 in September 2017.

The Bill published in the Gazette contained provisions for guaranteeing minimum female representation. When the Bill was at the committee stage, 40 pages were added to a three-page Bill which contained provisions for introduction of electorate-based election method for provincial councils (PCs). It had no relevance to the original Bill at all. It was a gross violation of the procedure set for approving Bills in the Constitution and Standing Orders.

Unfortunately, the Speaker endorsed and facilitated this undemocratic process. When it was challenged before the Supreme Court, it held that it has no authority to intervene in the legislative process. Hence, the Government has unfettered authority to import foreign material into Bills at the committee stage. When the Government follows this process, the public lose the opportunity of challenging it before the Supreme Court or expressing their views about the provisions. If the new federal constitution is published through a Gazette, it should definitely be placed before the people at a referendum.

Even if federal provisions are published in the Gazette as an amendment to the existing Constitution, the people can seek the Supreme Court determination for referring to a referendum. When such provisions are introduced during the committee stage people will lose the opportunity of challenging it before the Supreme Court. In the light of the above, the Government has the opportunity of introducing federal features to the Constitution avoiding the mandatory referendum.

Secondly, the 20A is a part of the Government’s grand strategy of ruling the nation until 2025 as repeatedly announced by government politicians.

Postponing the elections

The present Government attempts to rule the country not by winning elections but by postponing the elections. They postponed local authority elections for nearly three years quoting the process of delimitation of wards as the excuse. They have now postponed provincial council elections indefinitely by introducing electorate-based election method for the PCs just three days before the dissolution of three PCs. Nobody knows when elections can be held after finalizing the delimitation of electorates.

The Government can postpone the parliamentary elections in the same manner by introducing the electorate-based method for the parliamentary elections and appointing a Delimitation Commission just before the dissolution of the Parliament. If there are no elections, the Government can continue even beyond 2025. The only obstacle for this plan is the presidential elections. The entire country is considered as one electorate at presidential elections. Hence, there is no need of delimitation of electorates for the presidential elections. As a result, it cannot be postponed quoting delimitation of electorates as the excuse. That is why the Government has contracted the JVP to present the 20A to abolish the Executive Presidency.

Thirdly and most importantly, the Executive Presidency is not only the best but also most modern and most popular system of governance in the world. That is why nobody campaigns for abolishing the Executive Presidency in any other country. If the Executive Presidency was oppressive, the citizens of the US are the people who have suffered the most, since the US has been under the Executive Presidency for 229 years. Hence, the strongest campaign against the Executive Presidency should be found in the US. However, nobody campaigns against it, since nobody finds it not suitable for the US. In fact, it is ideal for ethnically divided, politically vulnerable developing nations such as Sri Lanka.

Worst political challenge

The JVP anyway hates the presidential elections, since it is the worst political challenge faced by the JVP periodically. After the introduction of the Executive Presidency, the JVP decided to contest the first election in 1982.

Although it expected at least one million votes, it received only 273,428. Because of the disappointment, it boycotted the election held in 1988. The JVP contested again in 1999 and received only 344,173 or 4%. It was the highest percentage obtained by the JVP at a presidential election.
The JVP performs decently at local government elections. Thereafter, they increase their vote bank at the PC elections. They impatiently wait for parliamentary elections to secure a higher number of votes and to become the king maker in Parliament.

Unfortunately, the presidential election comes in between. If the JVP fields a candidate at this ‘bipolar’ contest, its earned vote base will be slashed by half. Therefore, the JVP supports candidates from other parties at the presidential elections held in 1994, 2005, 2010 and 2015. The JVP later realized that after offering its votes to a stronger political party at the presidential election, it is difficult to attract voters back to the JVP at the parliamentary election which arrives soon thereafter.

Exhausted options

The JVP has now exhausted with options to exercise at the Presidential Elections. It has unsuccessfully tried out fielding candidates, supporting candidates of other parties and boycotting the election. The only option available for the JVP is to agitate for the abolition of the Executive Presidency. Hence, it is crystal clear that the JVP and the UNP have joined hands to abolish the Executive Presidency for ulterior motives!

3 Responses to “Revisiting JVP’s 20th Amendment”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Udaya must be reminded of the fact that in 2005 Mahinda promised to abolish executive presidency and the JHU supported him. Mahinda still supports it on policy.

    JO/SLPP cannot win the next presidential election (and the UNP has the edge) unless it promises to abrogate 13A, ETCA (if signed), Singapore FTA, Hambantota sale, etc. Can the JO do so? If not, it is best to abolish executive presidency than allow UNP to win the next presidential election.

    JVP is far more clever than this. A referendum is a huge benefit for the JVP. In a referendum, most people will support abolishing EP because most voters think the president equals presidency. They think it as a means of punishing incompetent Sirisena. Also most voters supported abolishing EP in all presidential elections since 1994.

  2. Randeniyage Says:

    I can’t predict abolition of EP will win or loose in a referendum. What I can say is with the current mob in the parliament and elections system, Sinhalaya will be gone and the country will be a part of India.

  3. Ananda-USA Says:

    The abolition of the Executive Presidency will be the GREATEST DISASTER for Sri Lanka since the TREACHERY of 1815 that ushered in British Colonial Rule.

    The JVP will be remembered as a Party of OPPORTUNIST TRAITORS every willing to SELL THEIR MOTHERLAND to HOIST THEMSELVES INTO POWER!

    May the Noble Triple Gem protect my Motherland from these TRAITORS working in collusion with the UNPATRIOTIC Party and SEPARATIST ENEMIES to DESTROY the homeland of the Sinhala Buddhists.

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